Vegetable of the Month: Rhizomes - Gingerroot, Galangal, Tumeric
Rhizomes: Availability, Selection, and Storage
Rhizomes can be found as roots in some Asian grocery stores, farmers markets
and natural food stores (gingerroot can even be found in many chain grocery
stores). In spice form, ginger and tumeric can be found in almost any food
When ripe, galangal should be ivory white and firm with very little
separation between skin and flesh. Never buy galangal that is wrinkled or
shriveled. Store refrigerated uncut and unwrapped for up to 3 weeks or, peel
the root and place it in a jar of sherry and store it refrigerated for several
months. Galangal can be frozen if tightly wrapped in foil.
Ginger is available year-round. When selecting gingerroot, choose robust
firm roots with a spicy fragrance and smooth skin. Gingerroot should not be
cracked or withered. It can be stored tightly wrapped in a paper towel or
plastic wrap (or put into a plastic bag) in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks and
like galangal, gingerroot can also be placed in a jar of sherry and
refrigerated for 3-6 months.
Fresh tumeric roots should have a spicy fragrance and stubby fingers
protruding from the sides of the root. Refrigerate unpeeled tumeric, tightly
wrapped, for 3 weeks.
Galangal can be sliced and used to flavor soups and stews (remove before
serving). It can also be mixed with lemon grass, chilies, shallots and garlic
into a paste that can be used to flavor rice dishes. Galangal can also be mixed
into a curry paste for similar purposes.
Peel skin from the root and gently peel the skin beneath (that closest to
the root is the most flavorful). Gingerroot can be sliced or minced (minced
gingerroot gives the most pungent flavor). Ginger is popular in Asian cuisine
where it is used both fresh and dried. Ginger can also be found crystallized,
candied, preserved and pickled.
The powdered, dried form of ginger has a more spicy, intense flavor and is
often used in baking (gingerbread, gingersnaps, ginger cookies).
Tumeric is typically boiled or steamed and then dried and ground into
powder. Use ground tumeric in fish or rice dishes. Be careful with fresh
turmeric, it will stain your hands and clothing.
Saffron (very expensive) is sometimes substituted for tumeric.
Include Rhizomes to spice your 5 to 9 A Day Plan!
- Ginger can be used raw or cooked; use sparingly at first to become
acquainted with the pungent taste.
- Chop ginger finely and sauté with garlic as a flavor base for oriental
- Add powdered tumeric to rice dishes for coloring and flavor.
- Soups and stews can be flavored with tumeric.